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Charles Dickens > Bleak House > Chapter XVII

Bleak House

Chapter XVII

Esther's Narrative

Richard very often came to see us while we remained in London
(though he soon failed in his letter-writing), and with his quick
abilities, his good spirits, his good temper, his gaiety and
freshness, was always delightful. But though I liked him more and
more the better I knew him, I still felt more and more how much it
was to be regretted that he had been educated in no habits of
application and concentration. The system which had addressed him
in exactly the same manner as it had addressed hundreds of other
boys, all varying in character and capacity, had enabled him to
dash through his tasks, always with fair credit and often with
distinction, but in a fitful, dazzling way that had confirmed his
reliance on those very qualities in himself which it had been most
desirable to direct and train. They were good qualities, without
which no high place can be meritoriously won, but like fire and
water, though excellent servants, they were very bad masters. If
they had been under Richard's direction, they would have been his
friends; but Richard being under their direction, they became his

I write down these opinions not because I believe that this or any
other thing was so because I thought so, but only because I did
think so and I want to be quite candid about all I thought and did.
These were my thoughts about Richard. I thought I often observed
besides how right my guardian was in what he had said, and that the
uncertainties and delays of the Chancery suit had imparted to his
nature something of the careless spirit of a gamester who felt that
he was part of a great gaming system.

Mr. and Mrs. Bayham Badger coming one afternoon when my guardian
was not at home, in the course of conversation I naturally inquired
after Richard.

"Why, Mr. Carstone," said Mrs. Badger, "is very well and is, I
assure you, a great acquisition to our society. Captain Swosser
used to say of me that I was always better than land a-head and a
breeze a-starn to the midshipmen's mess when the purser's junk had
become as tough as the fore-topsel weather earings. It was his
naval way of mentioning generally that I was an acquisition to any
society. I may render the same tribute, I am sure, to Mr.
Carstone. But I--you won't think me premature if I mention it?"

I said no, as Mrs. Badger's insinuating tone seemed to require such
an answer.

"Nor Miss Clare?" said Mrs. Bayham Badger sweetly.

Ada said no, too, and looked uneasy.

"Why, you see, my dears," said Mrs. Badger, "--you'll excuse me
calling you my dears?"

We entreated Mrs. Badger not to mention it.

"Because you really are, if I may take the liberty of saying so,"
pursued Mrs. Badger, "so perfectly charming. You see, my dears,
that although I am still young--or Mr. Bayham Badger pays me the
compliment of saying so--"

"No," Mr. Badger called out like some one contradicting at a public
meeting. "Not at all!"

"Very well," smiled Mrs. Badger, "we will say still young."

"Undoubtedly," said Mr. Badger.

"My dears, though still young, I have had many opportunities of
observing young men. There were many such on board the dear old
Crippler, I assure you. After that, when I was with Captain
Swosser in the Mediterranean, I embraced every opportunity of
knowing and befriending the midshipmen under Captain Swosser's
command. YOU never heard them called the young gentlemen, my
dears, and probably wonld not understand allusions to their pipe-
claying their weekly accounts, but it is otherwise with me, for
blue water has been a second home to me, and I have been quite a
sailor. Again, with Professor Dingo."

"A man of European reputation," murmured Mr. Badger.

"When I lost my dear first and became the wife of my dear second,"
said Mrs. Badger, speaking of her former husbands as if they were
parts of a charade, "I still enjoyed opportunities of observing
youth. The class attendant on Professor Dingo's lectures was a
large one, and it became my pride, as the wife of an eminent
scientific man seeking herself in science the utmost consolation it
could impart, to throw our house open to the students as a kind of
Scientific Exchange. Every Tuesday evening there was lemonade and
a mixed biscuit for all who chose to partake of those refreshments.
And there was science to an unlimited extent."

"Remarkable assemblies those, Miss Summerson," said Mr. Badger
reverentially. "There must have been great intellectual friction
going on there under the auspices of such a man!"

"And now," pursued Mrs. Badger, "now that I am the wife of my dear
third, Mr. Badger, I still pursue those habits of observation which
were formed during the lifetime of Captain Swosser and adapted to
new and unexpected purposes during the lifetime of Professor Dingo.
I therefore have not come to the consideration of Mr. Carstone as a
neophyte. And yet I am very much of the opinion, my dears, that he
has not chosen his profession advisedly."

Ada looked so very anxious now that I asked Mrs. Badger on what she
founded her supposition.

"My dear Miss Summerson," she replied, "on Mr. Carstone's character
and conduct. He is of such a very easy disposition that probably
he would never think it worthwhile to mention how he really feels,
but he feels languid about the profession. He has not that
positive interest in it which makes it his vocation. If he has any
decided impression in reference to it, I should say it was that it
is a tiresome pursuit. Now, this is not promising. Young men like
Mr. Allan Woodcourt who take it from a strong interest in all that
it can do will find some reward in it through a great deal of work
for a very little money and through years of considerable endurance
and disappointment. But I am quite convinced that this would never
be the case with Mr. Carstone."

"Does Mr. Badger think so too?" asked Ada timidly.

"Why," said Mr. Badger, "to tell the truth, Miss Clare, this view
of the matter had not occurred to me until Mrs. Badger mentioned
it. But when Mrs. Badger put it in that light, I naturally gave
great consideration to it, knowing that Mrs. Badger's mind, in
addition to its natural advantages, has had the rare advantage of
being formed by two such very distinguished (I will even say
illustrious) public men as Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy and
Professor Dingo. The conclusion at which I have arrived is--in
short, is Mrs. Badger's conclusion."

"It was a maxim of Captain Swosser's," said Mrs. Badger, "speaking
in his figurative naval manner, that when you make pitch hot, you
cannot make it too hot; and that if you only have to swab a plank,
you should swab it as if Davy Jones were after you. It appears to
me that this maxim is applicable to the medical as well as to the
nautical profession.

"To all professions," observed Mr. Badger. "It was admirably said
by Captain Swosser. Beautifully said."

"People objected to Professor Dingo when we were staying in the
north of Devon after our marriage," said Mrs. Badger, "that he
disfigured some of the houses and other buildings by chipping off
fragments of those edifices with his little geological hammer. But
the professor replied that he knew of no building save the Temple
of Science. The principle is the same, I think?"

"Precisely the same," said Mr. Badger. "Finely expressed! The
professor made the same remark, Miss Summerson, in his last
illness, when (his mind wandering) he insisted on keeping his
little hammer under the pillow and chipping at the countenances of
the attendants. The ruling passion!"

Although we could have dispensed with the length at which Mr. and
Mrs. Badger pursued the conversation, we both felt that it was
disinterested in them to express the opinion they had communicated
to us and that there was a great probability of its being sound.
We agreed to say nothing to Mr. Jarndyce until we had spoken to
Richard; and as he was coming next evening, we resolved to have a
very serious talk with him.

So after he had been a little while with Ada, I went in and found
my darling (as I knew she would be) prepared to consider him
thoroughly right in whatever he said.

"And how do you get on, Richard?" said I. I always sat down on the
other side of him. He made quite a sister of me.

"Oh! Well enough!" said Richard.

"He can't say better than that, Esther, can he?" cried my pet

I tried to look at my pet in the wisest manner, but of course I

"Well enough?" I repeated.

"Yes," said Richard, "well enough. It's rather jog-trotty and
humdrum. But it'll do as well as anything else!"

"Oh! My dear Richard!" I remonstrated.

"What's the matter?" said Richard.

"Do as well as anything else!"

"I don't think there's any harm in that, Dame Durden," said Ada,
looking so confidingly at me across him; "because if it will do as
well as anything else, it will do very well, I hope."

"Oh, yes, I hope so," returned Richard, carelessly tossing his hair
from his forehead. "After all, it may be only a kind of probation
till our suit is--I forgot though. I am not to mention the suit.
Forbidden ground! Oh, yes, it's all right enough. Let us talk
about something else."

Ada would have done so willingly, and with a full persuasion that
we had brought the question to a most satisfactory state. But I
thought it would be useless to stop there, so I began again.

"No, but Richard," said I, "and my dear Ada! Consider how
important it is to you both, and what a point of honour it is
towards your cousin, that you, Richard, should be quite in earnest
without any reservation. I think we had better talk about this,
really, Ada. It will be too late very soon."

"Oh, yes! We must talk about it!" said Ada. "But I think Richard
is right."

What was the use of my trying to look wise when she was so pretty,
and so engaging, and so fond of him!

"Mr. and Mrs. Badger were here yesterday, Richard," said I, "and
they seemed disposed to think that you had no great liking for the

"Did they though?" said Richard. "Oh! Well, that rather alters the
case, because I had no idea that they thought so, and I should not
have liked to disappoint or inconvenience them. The fact is, I
don't care much about it. But, oh, it don't matter! It'll do as
well as anything else!"

"You hear him, Ada!" said I.

"The fact is," Richard proceeded, half thoughtfully and half
jocosely, "it is not quite in my way. I don't take to it. And I
get too much of Mrs. Bayham Badger's first and second."

"I am sure THAT'S very natural!" cried Ada, quite delighted. "The
very thing we both said yesterday, Esther!"

"Then," pursued Richard, "it's monotonous, and to-day is too like
yesterday, and to-morrow is too like to-day."

"But I am afraid," said I, "this is an objection to all kinds of
application--to life itself, except under some very uncommon

"Do you think so?" returned Richard, still considering. "Perhaps!
Ha! Why, then, you know," he added, suddenly becoming gay again,
"we travel outside a circle to what I said just now. It'll do as
well as anything else. Oh, it's all right enough! Let us talk
about something else."

But even Ada, with her loving face--and if it had seemed innocent
and trusting when I first saw it in that memorable November fog,
how much more did it seem now when I knew her innocent and trusting
heart--even Ada shook her head at this and looked serious. So I
thought it a good opportunity to hint to Richard that if he were
sometimes a little careless of himself, I was very sure he never
meant to be careless of Ada, and that it was a part of his
affectionate consideration for her not to slight the importance of
a step that might influence both their lives. This made him almost

"My dear Mother Hubbard," he said, "that's the very thing! I have
thought of that several times and have been quite angry with myself
for meaning to be so much in earnest and--somehow--not exactly
being so. I don't know how it is; I seem to want something or
other to stand by. Even you have no idea how fond I am of Ada (my
darling cousin, I love you, so much!), but I don't settle down to
constancy in other things. It's such uphill work, and it takes
such a time!" said Richard with an air of vexation.

"That may be," I suggested, "because you don't like what you have

"Poor fellow!" said Ada. "I am sure I don't wonder at it!"

No. It was not of the least use my trying to look wise. I tried
again, but how could I do it, or how could it have any effect if I
could, while Ada rested her clasped hands upon his shoulder and
while he looked at her tender blue eyes, and while they looked at

"You see, my precious girl," said Richard, passing her golden curls
through and through his hand, "I was a little hasty perhaps; or I
misunderstood my own inclinations perhaps. They don't seem to lie
in that direction. I couldn't tell till I tried. Now the question
is whether it's worth-while to undo all that has been done. It
seems like making a great disturbance about nothing particular."

"My dear Richard," said I, "how CAN you say about nothing

"I don't mean absolutely that," he returned. "I mean that it MAY
be nothing particular because I may never want it."

Both Ada and I urged, in reply, not only that it was decidedly
worth-while to undo what had been done, but that it must be undone.
I then asked Richard whether he had thought of any more congenial

"There, my dear Mrs. Shipton," said Richard, "you touch me home.
Yes, I have. I have been thinking that the law is the boy for me."

"The law!" repeated Ada as if she were afraid of the name.

"If I went into Kenge's office," said Richard, "and if I were
placed under articles to Kenge, I should have my eye on the--hum!--
the forbidden ground--and should be able to study it, and master
it, and to satisfy myself that it was not neglected and was being
properly conducted. I should be able to look after Ada's interests
and my own interests (the same thing!); and I should peg away at
Blackstone and all those fellows with the most tremendous ardour."

I was not by any means so sure of that, and I saw how his hankering
after the vague things yet to come of those long-deferred hopes
cast a shade on Ada's face. But I thought it best to encourage him
in any project of continuous exertion, and only advised him to be
quite sure that his mind was made up now.

"My dear Minerva," said Richard, "I am as steady as you are. I
made a mistake; we are all liable to mistakes; I won't do so any
more, and I'll become such a lawyer as is not often seen. That is,
you know," said Richard, relapsing into doubt, "if it really is
worth-while, after all, to make such a disturbance about nothing

This led to our saying again, with a great deal of gravity, all
that we had said already and to our coming to much the same
conclusion afterwards. But we so strongly advised Richard to be
frank and open with Mr. Jarndyce, without a moment's delay, and his
disposition was naturally so opposed to concealment that he sought
him out at once (taking us with him) and made a full avowal.
"Rick," said my guardian, after hearing him attentively, "we can
retreat with honour, and we will. But we must he careful--for our
cousin s sake, Rick, for our cousin's sake--that we make no more
such mistakes. Therefore, in the matter of the law, we will have a
good trial before we decide. We will look before we leap, and take
plenty of time about it."

Richard's energy was of such an impatient and fitful kind that he
would have liked nothing better than to have gone to Mr. Kenge's
office in that hour and to have entered into articles with him on
the spot. Submitting, however, with a good grace to the caution
that we had shown to be so necessary, he contented himself with
sitting down among us in his lightest spirits and talking as if his
one unvarying purpose in life from childhood had been that one
which now held possession of him. My guardian was very kind and
cordial with him, but rather grave, enough so to cause Ada, when he
had departed and we were going upstairs to bed, to say, "Cousin
John, I hope you don't think the worse of Richard?"

"No, my love," said he.

"Because it was very natural that Richard should be mistaken in
such a difficult case. It is not uncommon."

"No, no, my love," said he. "Don't look unhappy."

"Oh, I am not unhappy, cousin John!" said Ada, smiling cheerfully,
with her hand upon his shoulder, where she had put it in bidding
him good night. "But I should be a little so if you thought at all
the worse of Richard."

"My dear," said Mr. Jarndyce, "I should think the worse of him only
if you were ever in the least unhappy through his means. I should
be more disposed to quarrel with myself even then, than with poor
Rick, for I brought you together. But, tut, all this is nothing!
He has time before him, and the race to run. I think the worse of
him? Not I, my loving cousin! And not you, I swear!"

"No, indeed, cousin John," said Ada, "I am sure I could not--I am
sure I would not--think any ill of Richard if the whole world did.
I could, and I would, think better of him then than at any other

So quietly and honestly she said it, with her hands upon his
shoulders--both hands now--and looking up into his face, like the
picture of truth!

"I think," said my guardian, thoughtfully regarding her, "I think
it must be somewhere written that the virtues of the mothers shall
occasionally be visited on the children, as well as the sins of the
father. Good night, my rosebud. Good night, little woman.
Pleasant slumbers! Happy dreams!"

This was the first time I ever saw him follow Ada with his eyes
with something of a shadow on their benevolent expression. I well
remembered the look with which he had contemplated her and Richard
when she was singing in the firelight; it was but a very little
while since he had watched them passing down the room in which the
sun was shining, and away into the shade; but his glance was
changed, and even the silent look of confidence in me which now
followed it once more was not quite so hopeful and untroubled as it
had originally been.

Ada praised Richard more to me that night than ever she had praised
him yet. She went to sleep with a little bracelet he had given her
clasped upon her arm. I fancied she was dreaming of him when I
kissed her cheek after she had slept an hour and saw how tranquil
and happy she looked.

For I was so little inclined to sleep myself that night that I sat
up working. It would not be worth mentioning for its own sake, but
I was wakeful and rather low-spirited. I don't know why. At least
I don't think I know why. At least, perhaps I do, but I don't
think it matters.

At any rate, I made up my mind to be so dreadfully industrious that
I would leave myself not a moment's leisure to be low-spirited.
For I naturally said, "Esther! You to be low-spirited. YOU!" And
it really was time to say so, for I--yes, I really did see myself
in the glass, almost crying. "As if you had anything to make you
unhappy, instead of everything to make you happy, you ungrateful
heart!" said I.

If I could have made myself go to sleep, I would have done it
directly, but not being able to do that, I took out of my basket
some ornamental work for our house (I mean Bleak House) that I was
busy with at that time and sat down to it with great determination.
It was necessary to count all the stitches in that work, and I
resolved to go on with it until I couldn't keep my eyes open, and
then to go to bed.

I soon found myself very busy. But I had left some silk downstairs
in a work-table drawer in the temporary growlery, and coming to a
stop for want of it, I took my candle and went softly down to get
it. To my great surprise, on going in I found my guardian still
there, and sitting looking at the ashes. He was lost in thought,
his book lay unheeded by his side, his silvered iron-grey hair was
scattered confusedly upon his forehead as though his hand had been
wandering among it while his thoughts were elsewhere, and his face
looked worn. Almost frightened by coming upon him so unexpectedly,
I stood still for a moment and should have retired without speaking
had he not, in again passing his hand abstractedly through his
hair, seen me and started.


I told him what I had come for.

"At work so late, my dear?"

"I am working late to-night," said I, "because I couldn't sleep and
wished to tire myself. But, dear guardian, you are late too, and
look weary. You have no trouble, I hope, to keep you waking?"

"None, little woman, that YOU would readily understand," said he.

He spoke in a regretful tone so new to me that I inwardly repeated,
as if that would help me to his meaning, "That I could readily

"Remain a moment, Esther," said he, "You were in my thoughts."

"I hope I was not the trouble, guardian?"

He slightly waved his hand and fell into his usual manner. The
change was so remarkable, and he appeared to make it by dint of so
much self-command, that I found myself again inwardly repeating,
"None that I could understand!"

"Little woman," said my guardian, "I was thinking--that is, I have
been thinking since I have been sitting here--that you ought to
know of your own history all I know. It is very little. Next to

"Dear guardian," I replied, "when you spoke to me before on that

"But since then," he gravely interposed, anticipating what I meant
to say, "I have reflected that your having anything to ask me, and
my having anything to tell you, are different considerations,
Esther. It is perhaps my duty to impart to you the little I know."

"If you think so, guardian, it is right."

"I think so," he returned very gently, and kindly, and very
distinctly. "My dear, I think so now. If any real disadvantage
can attach to your position in the mind of any man or woman worth a
thought, it is right that you at least of all the world should not
magnify it to yourself by having vague impressions of its nature."

I sat down and said after a little effort to be as calm as I ought
to be, "One of my earliest remembrances, guardian, is of these
words: 'Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were hers.
The time will come, and soon enough, when you will understand this
better, and will feel it too, as no one save a woman can.'" I had
covered my face with my hands in repeating the words, but I took
them away now with a better kind of shame, I hope, and told him
that to him I owed the blessing that I had from my childhood to
that hour never, never, never felt it. He put up his hand as if to
stop me. I well knew that he was never to be thanked, and said no

"Nine years, my dear," he said after thinking for a little while,
"have passed since I received a letter from a lady living in
seclusion, written with a stern passion and power that rendered it
unlike all other letters I have ever read. It was written to me
(as it told me in so many words), perhaps because it was the
writer's idiosyncrasy to put that trust in me, perhaps because it
was mine to justify it. It told me of a child, an orphan girl then
twelve years old, in some such cruel words as those which live in
your remembrance. It told me that the writer had bred her in
secrecy from her birth, had blotted out all trace of her existence,
and that if the writer were to die before the child became a woman,
she would be left entirely friendless, nameless, and unknown. It
asked me to consider if I would, in that case, finish what the
writer had begun."

I listened in silence and looked attentively at him.

"Your early recollection, my dear, will supply the gloomy medium
through which all this was seen and expressed by the writer, and
the distorted religion which clouded her mind with impressions of
the need there was for the child to expiate an offence of which she
was quite innocent. I felt concerned for the little creature, in
her darkened life, and replied to the letter."

I took his hand and kissed it.

"It laid the injunction on me that I should never propose to see
the writer, who had long been estranged from all intercourse with
the world, but who would see a confidential agent if I would
appoint one. I accredited Mr. Kenge. The lady said, of her own
accord and not of his seeking, that her name was an assumed one.
That she was, if there were any ties of blood in such a case, the
child's aunt. That more than this she would never (and he was well
persuaded of the steadfastness of her resolution) for any human
consideration disclose. My dear, I have told you all."

I held his hand for a little while in mine.

"I saw my ward oftener than she saw me," he added, cheerily making
light of it, "and I always knew she was beloved, useful, and happy.
She repays me twenty-thousandfold, and twenty more to that, every
hour in every day!"

"And oftener still," said I, '"she blesses the guardian who is a
father to her!"

At the word father, I saw his former trouble come into his face.
He subdued it as before, and it was gone in an instant; but it had
been there and it had come so swiftly upon my words that I felt as
if they had given him a shock. I again inwardly repeated,
wondering, "That I could readily understand. None that I could
readily understand!" No, it was true. I did not understand it.
Not for many and many a day.

"Take a fatherly good night, my dear," said he, kissing me on the
forehead, "and so to rest. These are late hours for working and
thinking. You do that for all of us, all day long, little

I neither worked nor thought any more that night. I opened my
grateful heart to heaven in thankfulness for its providence to me
and its care of me, and fell asleep.

We had a visitor next day. Mr. Allan Woodcourt came. He came to
take leave of us; he had settled to do so beforehand. He was going
to China and to India as a surgeon on board ship. He was to be
away a long, long time.

I believe--at least I know--that he was not rich. All his widowed
mother could spare had been spent in qualifying him for his
profession. It was not lucrative to a young practitioner, with
very little influence in London; and although he was, night and
day, at the service of numbers of poor people and did wonders of
gentleness and skill for them, he gained very little by it in
money. He was seven years older than I. Not that I need mention
it, for it hardly seems to belong to anything.

I think--I mean, he told us--that he had been in practice three or
four years and that if he could have hoped to contend through three
or four more, he would not have made the voyage on which he was
bound. But he had no fortune or private means, and so he was going
away. He had been to see us several times altogether. We thought
it a pity he should go away. Because he was distinguished in his
art among those who knew it best, and some of the greatest men
belonging to it had a high opinion of him.

When he came to bid us good-bye, he brought his mother with him for
the first time. She was a pretty old lady, with bright black eyes,
but she seemed proud. She came from Wales and had had, a long time
ago, an eminent person for an ancestor, of the name of Morgan ap-
Kerrig--of some place that sounded like Gimlet--who was the most
illustrious person that ever was known and all of whose relations
were a sort of royal family. He appeared to have passed his life
in always getting up into mountains and fighting somebody; and a
bard whose name sounded like Crumlinwallinwer had sung his praises
in a piece which was called, as nearly as I could catch it,

Mrs. Woodcourt, after expatiating to us on the fame of her great
kinsman, said that no doubt wherever her son Allan went he would
remember his pedigree and would on no account form an alliance
below it. She told him that there were many handsome English
ladies in India who went out on speculation, and that there were
some to be picked up with property, but that neither charms nor
wealth would suffice for the descendant from such a line without
birth, which must ever be the first consideration. She talked so
much about birth that for a moment I half fancied, and with pain--
But what an idle fancy to suppose that she could think or care what
MINE was!

Mr. Woodcourt seemed a little distressed by her prolixity, but he
was too considerate to let her see it and contrived delicately to
bring the conversation round to making his acknowledgments to my
guardian for his hospitality and for the very happy hours--he
called them the very happy hours--he had passed with us. The
recollection of them, he said, would go with him wherever he went
and would be always treasured. And so we gave him our hands, one
after another--at least, they did--and I did; and so he put his
lips to Ada's hand--and to mine; and so he went away upon his long,
long voyage!

I was very busy indeed all day and wrote directions home to the
servants, and wrote notes for my guardian, and dusted his books and
papers, and jingled my housekeeping keys a good deal, one way and
another. I was still busy between the lights, singing and working
by the window, when who should come in but Caddy, whom I had no
expectation of seeing!

"Why, Caddy, my dear," said I, "what beautiful flowers!"

She had such an exquisite little nosegay in her hand.

"Indeed, I think so, Esther," replied Caddy. "They are the
loveliest I ever saw."

"Prince, my dear?" said I in a whisper.

"No," answered Caddy, shaking her head and holding them to me to
smell. "Not Prince."

"Well, to be sure, Caddy!" said I. "You must have two lovers!"

"What? Do they look like that sort of thing?" said Caddy.

"Do they look like that sort of thing?" I repeated, pinching her

Caddy only laughed in return, and telling me that she had come for
half an hour, at the expiration of which time Prince would be
waiting for her at the corner, sat chatting with me and Ada in the
window, every now and then handing me the flowers again or trying
how they looked against my hair. At last, when she was going, she
took me into my room and put them in my dress.

"For me?" said I, surprised.

"For you," said Caddy with a kiss. "They were left behind by

"Left behind?"

"At poor Miss Flite's," said Caddy. "Somebody who has been very
good to her was hurrying away an hour ago to join a ship and left
these flowers behind. No, no! Don't take them out. Let the
pretty little things lie here," said Caddy, adjusting them with a
careful hand, "because I was present myself, and I shouldn't wonder
if somebody left them on purpose!"

"Do they look like that sort of thing?" said Ada, coming laughingly
behind me and clasping me merrily round the waist. "Oh, yes,
indeed they do, Dame Durden! They look very, very like that sort
of thing. Oh, very like it indeed, my dear!"

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